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About the Story
Admiral Copeland entrusted you with a mission to bring a pirate to trial. En-route the pirate's band attacks, boards your ship and kills your crew, throwing you into the brig. But you're not going to let that stop you from completing your mission are you? [blurb from IF Comp 2008]
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2008 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Piracy 2.0 takes a not-especially-novel premise about a ship attacked in space (see also Orevore Courier, Across the Stars, et al.) and makes something better-than-average out of the results. As the captain of the Ceres, you have to escape the brig and find a way to regain control of, or at least neutralize, your ship before the pirates have a chance to use it as a pirate vessel.
What makes the game a standout is how many and interesting are your options once you've escaped confinement. The ship has a lot of different features -- weapons, navigation, abilities to shut off parts of the ship from one another, etc. -- and there are a number of different ways to use all those features to produce different outcomes. So the main part of the game feels not so much as though you're working through a stack of set puzzles, but as though you're really coming to grips with a complex system and then inventing ways to use it against the pirates. This is hugely satisfying. To make this work, the Ceres has been designed in a lot of detail (feelies for the game include a very classy-looking diagram of the ship, which is useful).
Detractors have noted some lack of polish in certain areas (actually, the game gets sturdier after you leave the first couple of rooms, contrary to the general trend of IF games), and there appear to be a couple of puzzle solutions that produce buggy results. (Spoiler - click to show)In particular, trying to escape in the lifeboats may kill you even though by rights you ought to be getting away, or so it seems -- and you can still be killed by the pirates in person if you rig the sleeping gas then escape by lifeboat, even though you should have left them far behind. With luck, these aspects will be improved in a future release of the game.
Even with more polish, Piracy will always be a bit derivative as a story. The world-building relies a lot on tropes from popular SF, and at that it's more Star Trek than Firefly. Your crewmates get some passing attention, enough to make them seem less like ciphers, but you won't be interacting too much with most of them.
But then, story isn't the main point of this game. It's meant to be fun and challenging, and it is. I found myself constantly on the edge of getting stuck... and constantly having that "well, let me just try THIS ONE THING" thought before I completely gave up. Despite some gameplay remnants of a much earlier age (an instant death room, randomized combat sequences), overall Piracy 2.0's design works very well. I would love to play more games that had a similarly rich, open-ended challenge -- one that didn't really feel like a "puzzle" (with all the artificial implications) at all.
You play a captain whose ship has been conquered by pirates, and yourself thrown in the brig.
After a brief, linear opening sequence, the game opens up into a large map, on a ship (the feelies include a diagram of the ship). Random encounters happen, but I saw no timers at work. You have a dozen or more options for overcoming the Pirates, and you can basically select completely different routes each time.
I wasn't completely into the game, so after exploring every room and checking things out, I went to the walkthrough for one possible solution (of which there are many). I enjoyed it. This is a game requiring a lot of exploration and experimentation if you want to solve it on your own.
I recommend the beginning to everyone, and then that you decide on your own if you want to continue.
The shame! The humiliation!
Tasked with escorting an infamous Space Pirate captain to justice, you now find yourself locked in the brig of your own vessel. The pirate crew intercepted your ship.
Oh, how to redeem yourself?
Breaking out of this cell would be a good start...
After doing just that in a very text-adventurely way, Piracy 2.0 opens up wide, both in terms of map-directions as in terms of options of which puzzle to tackle first.
It immediately becomes clear that this is a game above all else. There is a framing story about pirates, and there are discrete puzzles to solve, but this game managed to tickle my SuperMario-nerve more than any other IF I have played. After a few tentative tries, I was not playing to defeat the pirates anymore. I wasn't even trying to solve puzzles for their own sake anymore. All that mattered was finding a succesful sequence of steps to navigate all these obstacles in a row for a victorious runthrough.
Pirate mooks jump up at random and shoot at you. If you get hit (randomly decided I think) you get wounded. You can get wounded a limited number of times (10, I think) and then you die.
Fortunately, if you jump against the right blocks in the ceiling, a heart pops out that heals you... Kidding, but there are objects to restore health in the game.
Exploring and mapping the spaceship takes time and restarts. So does experimenting and understanding what all the consoles and machines are for.
When you have done this preparatory work, it's up to your brain to link up smaller plans into a big-picture attempt at victory.
Crucial in this will be a console where you can give commands directly to the ship. Options include flooding the cargo bays or beaming up Yoshi with the transporter beam...
Once you confirm one of these options, a countdown starts. From then on, you have only so many turns to make your final and decisive moves.
If you have done your preparation right, maybe you will return to your superior officers and your family as an honoured hero. Of course, if you botched it you will float namelessly into the depths of space.
I have replayed this game more times than I have any other piece of IF, precisely because it hits the same buttons as a hard level in Mario Bros. The downside is that I couldn't care less about the backstory or the subtlety of writing. I was playing the system, not the surface-story. The first few times you start up Mario, you might notice the pretty green pyramids in the background. After a few failed runthroughs, you don't notice such superficialities any more.
Surprisingly addictive gameplay for an IF piece.
Oh, I missed swinging on ropes with a knife between my teeth and a good round of swashbuckling under the Jolly Roger. I thought those were mandatory in a game with pirates.
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